Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Tales of Beedle the Bard, and how we should all be wary of small children

This made a perfect intermission between the Feelings Ravager that was Half-Blood Prince and the I-don't-even-know-what-but-I'm-terrified-to-find-out of Deathly Hallows. I had, of course, never read this. And I didn't have a good idea what it was; so when I went to pick it up from the library, I was a little surprised to find a book for small people on my holds shelf.

Here's the thing though: It's a children's book that doesn't feel too childish. Which I appreciated as a grown-up lady and also would have appreciated when I was a small person. Because I was one of those kids who read A Clockwork Orange at the age of 8 and immediately declared it my favorite bookuntil I read American Psycho. (Just kidding.) Little Megs wore howling wolves T-shirts (unironically) and simply had no time for sweet little tales of "hoppitty pots." The truth is, being a child is terrifying. The things that go on in our brains? You don't even want to know, adults. You don't EVEN want to know.

It's a horror show in there.

Probably the most gruesome story in the bunch, and therefore my favorite, is "The Warlock's Hairy Heart." In a nutshell, a fabulously wealthy and attractive warlock, to spare himself from becoming a silly boy in love, uses Dark Magic to remove his heart. He ages and continues to smugly mock his silly friends and their silly families, thinking himself quite enviable. But then he overhears his servants talking about him as though he is to be pitied, a poor aging warlock with no one to love him. So he resolves to get married and make them jealous once and for all.

He sets about trying to trick a lovely rich witch into thinking he can feel things. But she somehow knows he's not quite right in the feeler and casually says, "If only you had a heart." And then he says, "Aha! But that's where you're wrong." And he takes her into his dungeon to show her that he does indeed have a heart, and here it is in the crystal casket right where he left it. It just needs a little brushing because it grew hair from lack of attention. And the maiden begs him to put it back in his chest where it belongs, so he DOES. And she hugs him with her soft white arms. And he is overwhelmed with the feelings that he hasn't been feeling for so many years (and probably also puberty), and his heart is like a tiny misguided animal that urges him to rip out the maidens heart and . . . lick and stroke it, for some reason? And I guess he was planning to replace his hairy, shriveled heart with this nice shiny new one. But he died instead.

Isn't it romantic?
Other things I learned from Beedle (rather, from Dumbledore's commentary):
  • There was a much worse Care of Magical Creatures teacher before Hagrid. Sixty-two probationary periods. Missing most of his limbs. So you can just shut right up, Parvati Patil.
  • "There is not a witch or wizard in existence whose blood has not mingled with that of Muggles." So all that pure-blood business is malarkey? Excellent.
  • It's all fun and games until someone is caught fondling some Horklumps.


  1. I read American Psycho about 10 years ago and still haven't totally recovered and I have never even managed to finish Clockwork Orange. I applaud your hypothetical childhood.

    Yup, it's awesome that "pure-blood" is not true. Suck it, Draco. Also, the warlock. Eurgh.

  2. I love Little Megs. Grown-up Megs is pretty rad, too.

    Who knew puberty could turn so violent if ignored for too long. Eeps.

  3. "So you can just shut right up, Parvati Patil."

    That thing.

    Also FONDLING HORKLUMPS. I was totally like "JK, is this approps for kids?"

  4. "And he is overwhelmed with the feelings that he hasn't been feeling for so many years (and probably also puberty)" definitely puberty. I assume this is roughly how most people would react if they had to go through puberty as adults